As we all know, fitness and health are very important in today’s society. Having a healthy lifestyle can increase the way we feel mentally, physically, and can give us a longer life. But are we missing a piece of the puzzle?  I’d want to KNOW!

What if I told you that it’s been proven that OPTIMISM can lead us to a longer life?

One Harvard study proved that Optimism, or positive thinking, actually reduces the risk of dying prematurely! The study showed that women who were optimistic had a significantly lower risk of dying from several major causes of death, including stroke, cancer, heart disease, and infection. Some of these risks even decreased by up to 50% !!!

How is this possible? Let’s think of Optimism as “Psychological Resilience”.

In the beginning of time, humans were programmed with a “fight or flight” response to stress. If a dinosaur were chasing us, our brain would close off from the outside world, and focus on the negative emotions like stress, death, and fear. It’s like tunnel vision and it becomes hard to think about anything else. And this worked for survival; it’s what kept us alive as cavemen. But lucky for us, the human race has come along way since then!

Even now, when we are in a fight with someone, our anger and emotions can be consuming!  This is where we can make a conscious decision to train our brains to THINK POSITIVE!

Positive thoughts lead to positive emotions, therefore broadening our sense of possibilities and opening our minds to more options!

Think of a time that you were very happy. Didn’t you feel like you were on top of the world? Like you could accomplish ANYTHING?

Researches have found that optimism can create an UPWARD SPIRAL. What does this mean? It means that happy people are more likely to develop better coping mechanisms, and better skills, which in turn lead to success, and therefore more HAPPINESS! Believe it or not, happiness makes you successful, not the other way around.

When people feel happy, they tend to be perceived as being confident, optimistic, and energetic. They are more likeable and sociable, and they benefit from these perceptions.

OPTIMISM can make you feel great, and the best part…it’s FREE! Yippee!

Forcing yourself to turn away from negative thinking may seem difficult at first, but once you know how, it can be one of the most beneficial skills to learn. The benefits are endless! From living a longer life, to becoming more successful, I believe that optimism is the MOST important trait we can have.

Here are a few things we can do to train ourselves to be optimistic:

  1. Take some time each day to close your eyes and VISUALIZE what you want out of life. Notice how you feel when you visualize yourself accomplishing your goals and desires. Hold on to that feeling!
  2. Make a list of your goals, and the steps you can take to accomplish your goals. Also, write about your day and your feelings. Sometimes journaling can open your mind to possibilities and you will start to notice your thought patterns.
  3. Speak it into existence. If you want to think positive, it helps to hear yourself say positive things aloud. Tell yourself you are beautiful, smart, and happy.
  4. Notice everything that you are grateful for. All of the things, people, and experiences that have helped you along the way. Tell people that you are grateful for them. And don’t forget to thank yourself!
  5. Schedule time to do what makes you happy! Allow yourself to experience life and happiness! Explore, read, garden, travel. Do what makes your heart smile!
  6. It increases endorphins and makes you look beautiful!

“A pessimist sees the difficulty in every opportunity; and optimist sees the opportunity in every difficulty” – Winston Churchill

Written by: Savana McGregor for ICUskin